What we have arrived at in the meantime is a kind of partisan total war. So-called standards are being dismissed or revived or invented on the spot by both sides depending upon the perceived needs of the moment. All of this has been latent in American politics for a long time. Sooner or later we were going to arrive at a crisis that would push all the frenetic energy and totem-defying fantasies of both Republican and Democrats aside in favor of an all-out struggle over something — a bill, a nominee, an impeachment.
I, for one, welcome the breakdown, both because I despised the old status quo and for sordid professional reasons. When extraordinary things happen in Washington, it makes my job easier. This is true of all journalists. I can’t help but feel, though, that we are the only class of Americans — politicians and their staffs notwithstanding — of whom this is true. How many people want the evening news to induce either existential despair or intoxicating glee or both every night of the week?
Ask yourself if you really want this to continue. If the answer is yes, I raise my glass to you. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to throw it.) If it’s no, I’m sorry. I wish I could suggest how we might go back to the halcyon days when it felt like most things didn’t matter very much and members of both of our two parties could punch their cards at the end of the day and ignore politics for a while. I don’t think they’re ever coming back.